It’s rivalry week in Class 3A this week.
It’s also the semifinal round of the playoffs.
In a weird twist, two of 3A’s biggest rivalries, Cody/Powell and Star Valley/Jackson, will be staged on the doorstep of a state championship game berth.
With the West sweeping the East out of the 3A playoffs with scores of 55-26, 48-6, 41-14 and 45-12, the bracket distilled down to a renewal of the Bighorn Brawl in the battle for Park County supremacy between Cody and Powell and a restaging of the Fall Brawl between western edge rivals Jackson and Star Valley.
The West’s control of 3A is nothing new — it’s been the norm for almost the entire decade.
In 2012, the West swept the East, albeit by smaller margins as two of the four games that year were one-possession games. And in 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2013, three West teams reached the semis. The only year left out of that conflagration is 2014, when the only West team to reach the semis (Cody) ended up winning the 3A title. Moreover, the past eight 3A state champs have all been West teams.
Well, make it nine, because a West team will win 3A again this year.
The question now is which one.
I’ve made some picks, with the team I think will win in bold. However, as you can see, I’ve only picked one road team to win, which is kind of boring:
(4) Cheyenne East at (1) Thunder Basin: The ‘Bolts are undefeated but aren’t unbeatable. Last week showed that. A 31-30 game with East in Week 2 showed that. And it’ll take a heck of an effort from Thunder Basin to hold off a confident Thunderbird crew. (First playoff meeting.)
(3) Cheyenne Central at (2) Sheridan: Man, it seems like a LONG time ago that Sheridan beat Central 28-14. That’s because that game was in Week 1. Since then, the Broncs have been consistent but the Indians have been streaky. I like consistency, but I fear streakiness. (First playoff meeting since 2017 4A quarterfinals.)
(3W) Jackson at (1W) Star Valley: Don’t forget, the last time these two teams met, it was a one-score game at halftime before the Braves ran away with it in the second half. If the Broncs can put together a complete game, they can absolutely win in Afton. If. (First playoff meeting since 1990 3A quarterfinals.)
(4W) Powell at (2W) Cody: The Broncs controlled the first meeting between these teams from start to finish and won 38-14. But rivalries have a weird way of manifesting weird results when they’re staged in the playoffs. (First playoff meeting since 2013 3A semifinals.)
(3E) Thermopolis at (1E) Buffalo: The Bison had to rally late last week to stay unbeaten. And the Bobcats hung with the Bison in their first game before falling 28-14. Buffalo’s the favorite, but Thermop is a capable spoiler. (First playoff meeting since 2003 4A semifinals.)
(2E) Burns at (1W) Mountain View: Both teams had easy first-round victories. Despite how good and confident the Broncs might be, the Buffalos still enter as big favorites. (First playoff meeting.)
Class 1A 11-man
(3E) Southeast at (1E) Big Horn: Big Horn won the first matchup two weeks ago 49-7 in Yoder. The Cyclones might keep it closer this time around, but the Rams are in great position to move back into the title game. (First playoff meeting since 2001 2A semifinals.)
(2E) Upton-Sundance at (1W) Cokeville: Cokeville won this game last year. But that was last year, and the Patriots are looking stronger than they’ve looked in a while. Incidentally, I’m looking forward to seeing this game again in the 2A semifinals next year. (Rematch of a 2018 1A 11-man semifinal.)
Class 1A six-man
(3E) Lingle at (1E) Hanna: I know Snake River’s defense gets the attention, but how about Hanna’s offense? The Miners are averaging 73.9 points per game, which if they can keep up that pace would be an all-time state record for scoring proficiency. With a 69-24 victory against the Doggers already logged this season, Hanna’s the easy favorite in this one. (First playoff meeting since 1991 1A quarterfinals.)
Class 1A six-man
(2E) Hulett at (1W) Snake River: The Rattlers are the favorites to win, yes. But the Red Devils’ solid performance against Farson last week has me thinking they might be the team to break Snake’s season-long shutout streak. (First playoff meeting since 2012 1A six-man quarterfinals.)
For a full schedule including kickoff times, as well as results from past weeks, go here. Click on “Semifinals” on the top of the page for this week’s schedule.
Here are the results of my picks from last week and this season:
Last week: 17-3 (85 percent). This season: 237-55 (81 percent).
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